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UK to deploy 20,000 troops in Northern Europe to deter Russian hybrid threats

by Martin Fornusek October 14, 2023 12:01 AM 2 min read
A Merlin helicopter lands on the deck of Royal Navy warship HMS Albion during Joint Viking training exercises with NATO forces southeast of Harstad, in Vagsjord, Norway, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. (Danielle Bochove/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The U.K. will deploy over 20,000 troops, along with ships and aircraft, in Northern Europe next year to protect critical infrastructure and tackle Russian hybrid threats, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Oct. 13.

Meeting Northern European leaders on the strategically important island of Gotland, Sunak pointed out accelerating "hybrid activities and strategic competition" in the region.

The leaders discussed "Russia's sabotaging behavior" in Northern Europe and how they can jointly address this threat.

The prime minister emphasized that even though Russian President Vladimir Putin had lost significant ground in Ukraine since launching the full-scale invasion, "allies and partners should not be lulled into a false sense of security."

For that purpose, London will send over 20,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and women, as well as eight Royal Navy ships, 25 jets, and a helicopter aviation task force to the northern European region, the U.K. government's press release said.

The troops will take part in large-scale, multi-country exercises and carry out policing and cold weather training. This is meant to strengthen the allies' ability to "detect, deter, and defuse traditional and hybrid threats."

"Northern Europe is vital to our national security, which is why it's more important than ever that we work with our Joint Expeditionary Force neighbors to protect our backyard and deter damaging hybrid threats," Sunak said.

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